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Does your band actively work on your visual show?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by ChrisB2, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    When I see top-name artists/bands perform on TV, they always have a very intentional and structured visual aspect to their performance. It may vary from cool clothing and some nice moves to an all-out choreographed dance routine with coordinating costumes. But it's intentional, and it usually looks good.

    For example, I saw a band on TV this morning doing a very simple pop song yet the guitarist and bassist were moving in ways that were much more exaggerated than necessary to perform their parts. It looked good, but it was obviously (to me anyway) that the routine was intentional... i.e., purposefully added to the act of playing the instrument to increase the visual enjoyment of the performance.

    When I see local bands, whether it be cover or original, for the most part the visual performance is not that great... or downright bad. Sometimes there is some obvious intentional effort, but a lot of times it comes across poorly, like a cover band with guys in bad drag (think Marge Simpson boobs and hair) or devil costumes. Some bands look pretty good and dress nice, maybe throw in some nice moves, but that seems to be the rare exception. Of course, top-tier bands have the resources to produce a great show. But that doesn't mean the local band can't at least work on it.

    Usually the overall visual package just doesn't seem like it gets the same attention as playing the instruments, singing, setting up well with proper gear, and sounding good (yes, obviously the main concerns).

    This leads me to wonder if we're giving enough attention to this aspect of performing, so my questions are (just for the purpose of discussion):

    - Does your band actively work on your stage show like you would practicing songs and working on writing?

    - How successful have you been, as a band, working out a visual component that you think works? Have you seen any results from this?

    - Describe your band's attitude and approach to the visual show. Also describe the show itself.

    - What are your personal thoughts and actions regarding your own personal visual appearance and behavior on stage?

    - How successful have you been, as an individual, working out your own visual "show"?

    - Do you think these performance aspects are natural and just "flow" from some people, or are they learned and rehearsed? Or a combination of both depending on the personality? Is it possible to evolve from a statue to a believable showman?

    - Add any other comments that you want to! :D

    I'll go: Sadly, the reason I thought of this thread was because my middle-age classic rock cover band doesn't really discuss this area, and I think it shows. We do not work on our show besides bringing and setting up lights. That's it. The singer has made noise before that we need to step up our show, and I agreed, but it has gone nowhere. That pretty much describes our attitude and approach, and our show. :(

    Personally, I try to stay fit, dress in nice "stagewear"-looking clothes, and do my best to look as good as I can (limited haha). I try to move around without looking clownish, and not stare at my fretboard. Usually I'm looking at the other guys looking at their fretboards. :p I don't "dance" but I try to get into the groove and move accordingly. I don't think I can do much more without attracting undue attention to myself for the contrast in behavior that would result. I'm still working on my personal thing and see it as an ongoing project.

    I'm not sure about the last question. I know there are people who are natural showmen/women, and some who will never be. Not sure about the middlers though....
  2. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    You're situation describes mine pretty well. My band sets up lights and that's it. The drummer and singer/guitarist usually look pretty bored while they're playing.

    Personally, I'll dress in nice clothing and get into it as much as I can. Every show I have people coming up to me telling me how great I was, wanting to takes pics and stuff like that. I think I'm doing okay, but it's tough to carry the whole thing by yourself, especially as the bassist.

    I wish the other guys would try a little harder, but I think they've just been doing it like this for years without much thought and it's tough to change. I'm not saying we need choreographed dances moves or matching outfits (both ridiculous IMO, unless it's a wedding band) but some more effort would be nice. Keep it simple...look like you're having fun.
  3. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    we've discussed it, are conscious of the need for good visuals. i know it's made a difference. i think we may be a bit complacent on that front right now though.
  4. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    This is something that is a bit of a sore subject for me.

    I've been trying (in vain) for YEARS to convince band members that the visual is just as important as the music. I always get, "we can't do that!!"

    Loosely translated, "my wife owns my balls, so I have none left with which to be adventurous."

    I'm a firm believer that the show should be all-encompassing. In other words, everything about the show is important. If you play every song to perfection but just stand there in your work clothes from earlier in the day, it takes away from the show.
  5. dand666


    Jun 15, 2011
    Yup, Rip is right.

    Check out Vintage Trouble and look at their stage performance, it's great.
  6. DiabolicLow B

    DiabolicLow B Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Ontario, Canada
    We changed our female singer a few months back because of this very reason, we had a really great singer before but the stage presence was non existant and no interaction with the band.

    Our new singer's vocals are very good but not quite as good as the last singer but she is much more visual, interacts with the audience and is a great dancer to boot.

    She has convinced the guys to dress for shows (shirt & tie)& move more on stage, as well as working out some onstage banter within the band beforehand.

    Since the change our agent is getting much more call backs and we are starting to get into some really great rooms that we never thought we could.

    So yes the visual aspect of the show is just as important as the music.
  7. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Back in the 80's, several bands like Megadeth came out and said some pretty rude things about the hair bands of the day.

    Basically said that they weren't real bands because they focused on the "fluff" instead of the music.

    I think there really needs to be a balance. Your music is obviously the most important, but if you look like slobs, no one will care.

    Image has a definite place, and if more people would understand this, we wouldn't have a need for threads about the decline of live music, because people would be packing shows!!

    Make your show count, from the music to the clothes to the moves. Remember, people are there to see a SHOW!! Give em what they came for.
  8. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    We should, but we don't.

    If you're out there gigging you're in show biz, so, you really should have a show.
  9. eb3mike


    Nov 5, 2010
    Thank God for John Entwistle
  10. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    It's definitely important. Few want to admit it but your look and presence is on par with how you actually sound. Hell, if you're in a coverband sometimes its MORE important!

    My band is pretty good with our show and stage presence. The other guys laugh though when I suggest paying more attention to clothing and appearance. Oh well, can't win 'em all!
  11. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Houston, TX
    The visual thing is important. FACT! Some people pretend it's not (it's all about the music syndrome). But that's just not the case when it comes to being a live performance act. Seeing a live band is a whole sensory experience... Hearing, Sight, Smell, Feel... it's all a part of a show.
  12. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    We're fortunate enough to have a front man who's 6'4 and built, very good looking and charismatic. He carries the bulk of the show for us from a visual perspective. About the only time I get really animated is during my spotlight solo when I ham it up but that's mostly to cover the fact I don't solo very well and I'm not enjoying it that much.

    Every now and then me and the two guitarists will get behind the frontman and do some faux choreographed stuff but it's all tongue-in-cheek... the three of us are all way too old to look anything but pathetic if we were trying to play it straight. Both guitarists are pushing 60 and I'm 46 so we're very cogniscent of the fact that it's the 31-year old frontman's "show" and while we obviously want to project that we're having a good time, we also understand the importance of being true to who we are. Good grief, 3 of us have grandkids so we can only take the "rock stud" thing so far, right?

    I guess the "persona" our band tries to project... and usually pretty successfully... is guys that really love music and want to do it well but also want to give the crowd a good time. It's not like we're the "rock stars" and they're the peons, it's more like we're all just getting together to have a party and we happen to be the ringleaders.

    The other part of visuals of course is lighting and our BL is pretty big into that stuff. It's a PITA to haul around, set-up and run but it does make a difference.

    Personally, I do like to "dress up" for onstage which to me usually constitutes a collared, button-down shirt, some nice dark jeans and leather lace-up shoes. Which generally makes the best or 2nd dressed guy in the band on any given night. I'm not sure what that does for the visuals as a whole, but it makes me feel more like a performer anyway.
  13. droo46


    Jun 16, 2011
    For me, the crowd is the deciding factor. I will dance my ass off if the crowd is into it. If they don't give me a show, they probably won't get one in return.
  14. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    We don't work on our visual presentation too much. We have the typical colored lights for an outdoor show, but other than that its t-shirts and jeans, maybe a hat once in a while. Geez, we're in our 50's what can we do?

    I would say that we do really work the crowd pretty well though. Our front man is good at that, and we hang out with people on breaks etc.

    People say, "you look like you're having a good time". That's a pretty important part of a visual presentation.
  15. Ninjabot


    May 22, 2012
    Johnson City TN
    I personally think the visual aspect of a show is just as important as the musical. I can't stand to go see a band play and they all just sit there like they'd rather be somewhere else. It's pretty boring compared to a band that moves around and shows that they're feeling what they are actually playing. I feel if the fans are visually stimulated then they are more apt to come back for the next show.
  16. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    Here I go again... Music BUSINESS!!

    You don't have to do anything, but then again you don't have to be successful either. What I mean is that what is going to set you apart from the other 100 bands in your area is the amount of work you put into it. You practice the songs right? Ever practice or time a set up and tear down to make the process smoother? Ever practice you interaction with the crowd (you know the between song banter with the audience)? Ever work on your set list to eliminate "whaddya wanna play next" moments? This is simply just another part of it. You are right, if you are the ONLY guy in the band moving around and looking like you're having a good time, you will stand out.

    Fortunately you have potential help from your singer. The two of you could start working on it to help bring the rest of the guys onboard. This is fixable, just keep working at it. :hyper: :bassist: :hyper: :bassist: :hyper:
  17. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    I've done that a few times when the singer was the only other guy in the band that moved. Everyone else stayed back by their amps and the singer and I played off of each other all night. We had a great time. The rest of the band, not so much.
  18. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    We treat stage presentation as 'something to be concious of' when performing, but we don't choreograph.
    The basic idea is: dress in a way appropriate for the style of music, act like you are having fun and 'into it'.
    We try let it flow in a natural way, but we are concious that we have to exaggerate movement onstage for it to 'read'.
    We discuss places where we want to underscore the intensity by how we move.

    I personally love to move around onstage, and exaggerate a lot.
    Some may think I'm faking it because the part is very simple.
    But I'm not reactign to the diffculty, I'm reacting to the music.

    If my band mates were Pete , Roger and Keith, then I'd have no need for stage presence as well.
  19. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I've been doing some experimentation with this on our gigs of late.

    By nature I'm a reserved, stand-back-by-the-amp guy. Much more John Paul Jones than Flea when it comes to the whole animation thing. And when our stages are small, that works out well. But this summer we've had the chance to play some bigger stages and I've been "stretching out" a bit (aided by wireless technology), going to various places on stage, interacting with the front line guys more, looking out into / smiling at the audience more (vs. down at my bass)... sometimes even walking out into FOH... and I don't know, maybe it's just me psyching myself up but it seems like the gigs "go" better when I put more of myself into it physically. The stuff we play on the whole is not challenging musically so it's not like I'm compromising that part of it to be a little more visual. I would probably be embarrassed as hell if I saw myself doing that on video, but it seems to pay off on the crowd response side.

    Just my .02.
  20. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Yes, every show is video recorded and then we do a "post-game" viewing and make rude comments about each other.
    True about the rude comments but we all have a good laugh about it and learn an enormous amount about stage appearance, stage chat, and how the arrangements work.

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